Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Radio War (1949)

From the July 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

If, as the Communists are so fond of telling us, the Russian system is so wonderful and so enthusiastically supported by the Russian workers, why does the Soviet government go to such fantastic lengths to prevent them hearing the slightest piece of news of the outside world that has not already been carefully vetted beforehand? Why all these efforts to keep the Russian workers in a mental vacuum? At the last elections for the Supreme Soviet, 99 per cent. of the electorate were said to have voted for the Government candidates, yet so uncertain are the Russian ruling clique of their supporters that they cannot even run the risk of a few of them hearing any other propaganda than the propaganda they chose to put out themselves. Why this reluctance? Why this anxiety and fear? Fear it must be, for the lengths to which the Russian government is prepared to go are almost incredible.

As is well known a part of the Russians' own propaganda technique has been to use radio to the utmost, and they have turned the whole business of wireless propaganda into a fine art. Day and night, hundreds of broadcasts in dozens of languages go out over the short waves from Moscow, directed to all parts of the world. In retaliation, the British and American governments have recently taken to playing the Russians at their own game and have been putting out a stream of their own brand of propaganda in the reverse direction of Moscow. Evidently convinced that the Russian workers may not be able to stand up to this flow of words from the other side of the “ Iron Curtain,” the Russian come-back has been to resort to “ jamming.”

The number of Russians able to hear these broadcasts cannot be very large, yet so afraid is the Kremlin of even this small trickle that it has increased jamming to such an extent that the “Voice of America” and the B.B.C. can pierce the interference only in spots (Manchester Guardian, 9/6/49.) To ensure that hardly one small word can get through, the same paper says that the Russians have tripled the number of jamming transmitters to no less than 205. Such a terrific concentration of transmitters has been achieved only at the expense of Moscow’s own domestic radio programmes and foreign broadcasts, but the Russians seem quite prepared to go even to these lengths to blot out the aerial intruders.

Nor is this the end of the story. In an attempt to beat the blockade, British and American technicians tried the dodge of tuning their transmissions close to the remaining Russian domestic stations, but the dodge failed. So anxious is the Soviet government to protect its subjects from contamination that it is quite prepared to jam its own broadcasts!

What the result of this wireless warfare will be, we do not know. What it does provide is yet one more example of the hollowness of the claim that Russia is a contented workers’ paradise. If it were all the Russian ruling clique and their Communist apologists make it out to be, one thing is certain and that is that the Russian workers would be proof against any amount of Western capitalist propaganda. That they go to such fantastic lengths to keep the Russian workers in mental straitjackets shows up the claim for what it really is, a monstrous fabrication sedulously fostered by the Russian Government to further its own political and economic ends, and the parrot-cry of Communists, fellow-travellers and other workers politically ignorant enough to be taken in by it.

We pose the question again, .and any supporter of Russia is at perfect liberty to take up the challenge. Why is it necessary for a government with (so we are told) 99 per cent. of the electorate behind it, to take these, and other fantastic measures to prevent a little capitalist propaganda from reaching the ears of its subjects? Is it because the workers’ conditions are not all that they are cracked up to be? Or that the Russian government has not the overwhelming support it says it has, and the election results were faked? Or what is it?

These columns are open to any supporter of the Russian system to take up the challenge.
Stan Hampson

Death of a Clown (1949)

From the August 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

Coming out of the factory I bought a “mid-day” to look at the runners. A bob each-way on a decent priced winner would pay for a night in town.

“Seen the stop press?” the paper boy asked as he took my coin. I glanced down.

“Early this morning Peter Waring, the comedian who was yesterday sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, was found hanged in his cell.”

I hadn’t read much of the case. Every day in courtrooms up and down the country men, women and adolescents are being sentenced to so many weeks, months or years imprisonment for enjoying property to which they have no legal right. Borstal institutions are full of boys who wanted bicycles or girls who wanted gay new dresses for the summer; Holloway is full of women who were light-fingered in the chain stores; the Scrubs and the Pen are full of men who were fools enough to believe that merely because they produce they have a right to the product.

But Waring was a celebrity. By nature of his work he was in the public eye and hence his tragedy had commercial value as news. The Sunday papers revelled in it. Each one probed into his past, examined every angle; each one attempting to outdo its rival in hounding the victim even beyond the grave. But the facts they produced examined carefully provide a useful object lesson in the effects of a system of exploitation upon the exploited.

He was born in Camberwell in 1917. D’you know Camberwell? An ugly place just like Stepney or Salford, Bermondsey or Birmingham, East Ham or Everton, or any other place where workers are hounded together to live, breed, and die.

Silly fellow—he objected to it, and vainly sought escape across the seas. At the age of sixteen he stowed away in the funnel of a liner and was badly burnt for his trouble. The second attempt won him twenty-eight days in jail.

Working as a footman he absconded with £100 belonging to Lord Sysonby—three years in Borstal. 1939, guilty of fraud—six months—again in 1941. And then came his big chance! His talent as a comic made him a top of the bill star.

Yet still the ugliness of his past haunted him. Was he not a child of the threadbare thirties? Still he strove for the antithesis of his youth. He wanted to enjoy the luxuries he had seen as a servant. In 1948 he was bankrupt.

Finally he was charged with obtaining money under false pretences, When sentenced he wept, “I am not a criminal. I have been foolish but—.”

What does it matter? So many workers end the same way. Seeing the good things of life always in sight, never in reach, they conduct a one-man struggle to make them their own. Always Nemesis, in the form of the state overtakes them and back they are pitched.

For this is a system of society based upon private property and all the powers spiritual and temporal are bound up in its protection. No one man can permanently assail its defences. But many men and women—the useful but propertyless section upon whose energies it depends, can when they are ready destroy it for ever.

You who can study the intricacies of racehorse breeding, forms and timing; you who are wily enough to make a few bob here and there at the expense of your masters; you who go to your graves still hoping for something to turn up; give a few moments’ thought to the world in which you live. Understand the comparatively simple workings of capitalism and the need for Socialism. Equipped with that knowledge nothing can stand in your way.
Ronald

It's Laughable (1949)

From the September 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard
"All you Socialist fellows are alike. You all lack a sense of humour.”
This remark is thrown at Socialists time and time again, so let us examine the question of a sense of humour.

Psychologists and doctors tell us that laughter is a safety valve. Nature’s way of protecting our mental set-up from shock. We laugh at the fat man who slips on a banana skin because, were we to regard the accident coolly and thoughtfully we should no doubt suffer some of the mental anguish if not the physical pain of his fall.

But the realm of humour is greater than this. Take stock of the jokes of comedians who help to make our life more bearable in an almost unbearable servitude. They help us to laugh at ourselves. The more ridiculous a joke makes us look, the more we laugh—the tramp with a hole in the seat of his pants—parasitic mothers-in-law—the worker asking the boss for a rise —the raw recruit in the army and all these “funny" stories in which human beings have failed to reconcile their sex-lives with the economics and twisted morals of this social system.

The trouble with a Socialist, we are told repeatedly, is that he will take everything so damned seriously. For some inexplicable reason, some mental quirk, he finds it difficult and a little stupid to laugh at poverty, squalor and sexual maladjustment. The poker-faced individual will keep harping on economics. He spoils every joke by pointing out the unpleasant truth in it. Laughter was given to protect us from shock and the Socialist will keep showing up the shocking things that we escape seeing through humour. A regular boor and a bore is the Socialist. Even the antics of Labour politicians hardly raise a smile on his face and they are current topics of radio humour these days. Wisecracks on pre-fab houses start him off about “ ’omes fit for ’eroes to live in,” and industrial slums and the speed of the housing programme. They seem to have hit the mark, these critics. There does seem to be a lack of humour somewhere. Perhaps the reason could lie in the fact that these things are not so funny after all. Perhaps if all the canned humour ceased on the radio and in comic strips; perhaps if people in general turned a little less to humour for escape; perhaps when life gets unbearable even beyond a joke, people might come to see these things as needing a remedy. But then, they might also become so shocked and disgusted with their lot that they would throw the whole social system overboard and institute Socialism.

And that would never do. That would be no joke. Or would it?
L. C.

The Old Order Reigneth Not (1949)

From the October 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

It has often been asked by members of the audience at meetings of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, how will the new social order known as Socialism be established? The best answer to that question, would be for the questioner and indeed the whole audience, to go with the speaker, inside the British Parliament and to visualize this scene.

The benches are packed. Packed with Socialist delegates. Not M.P’s as hitherto known. It is a very fateful session. For what purpose have these Socialist delegates been sent there? Only for one single purpose. To put into effect one single decree or law which will end for ever and ever, the present order of society known as Capitalism. At the same time, throughout the best part of the world, in such Parliaments at Paris, Madrid, Rome, Cairo, Nanking, the Congress at Washington and even Moscow, similar and eventful sessions are taking place. One single decree or law is being deliberated upon and about to be put to the vote and which can only have one result. This decree may suitably be worded thus:
 “It is hereby decreed, that what is now known as the private ownership of the land and means of wealth, production and distribution is hereby abolished, now and for ever more.
  “In substitution thereof, there shall be instituted as what shall be known as the common ownership of the aforesaid land and means of wealth production and distribution.
 "Furthermore it is hereby decreed that the aforesaid land and means of wealth production and distribution shall remain under Common Ownership and shall be democratically controlled by and on behalf of the whole of the community, regardless of their colour or sex.”
The significance of the above decree will be readily understood by all and sundry. The result of the voting can only end in its passing. When this is done, then that is the end of Capitalist society. A new social order has now been born, known as Socialism. Prior to this fateful session a meeting of the Socialist electorate in the different townships, villages, communes, etc., has been held. And the Socialist delegates have been instructed something like this: —
  “When this decree comes up for vote in Parliament, or National Assembly, or Congress, etc., ye are hereby instructed to vote for this decree and nothing else. For so doing this is our will and pleasure.”
It refutes the argument that Socialism can be established by a minority group against the will and understanding of the electorate. Now the Socialist electorate know what they are doing. They have demanded this great social change and have said so in no uncertain voice. Thus will Socialism be established.
Nat Posner

Cuba: No ‘New Man’ (2017)

From the November 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard

Seen in its most favourable light (and not just as a theory of political dictatorship that it is), Leninism can be seen as the view that the way to socialism is for a minority of socialists to seize power at the head of a discontented but non-socialist working class and then using this power to educate this majority into becoming socialists.
This accepts that socialism is a classless, stateless, wageless, moneyless society based on common ownership and with voluntary work and free access to goods and services, and also that such a society can only function with majority support and participation. (Leninists call it ‘communism’, confusingly reserving the word ‘socialism’ to describe the state-capitalist regimes they establish when they come to power.)
This view is based on the premise that, due to capitalist control of the idea-forming apparatus, a majority can never come to be socialists while capitalist rule lasts; only a minority can and therefore it is their duty to seize power to liberate the majority. Lenin did not invent this view; he merely followed a tradition that went back to Babeuf’s ‘Conspiracy of the Equals’ in the French Revolution.
One Leninist who took this seriously was Che Guevara who was a minister in the Cuban government in the early 1960s. He liked to quote from a review Lenin wrote in January 1923 of a chronicle of the Russian Revolution written by the non-Bolshevik Russian revolutionary Nikolai Sukhanov:
'You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism? Where, in what books, have you read that such variations of the customary historical sequence of events are impermissible or impossible? ' (MIA Link.)
Answer: in everything that Karl Marx wrote.
Guevara wanted Cuba to ‘start moving towards socialism’ straightaway by, among other things, creating ‘the new man’. This meant the 'revolutionary vanguard', as the government, educating people into becoming and behaving like socialists, in particular getting them to participate in the running and work of society on a voluntary basis because they realised this had to be done in the common interest. Hence he favoured ‘moral incentives’ over ‘material incentives’.
In Socialism and Man in Cuba Guevara said that creating 'the new man' had to involve moving away from commodity production (production for sale):
'The commodity is the economic cell of capitalist society. So long as it exists its effects will make themselves felt in the organization of production and, consequently, in consciousness.' (MIA Link). 
Castro took the same view, declaring in an interview with a French magazine in 1967:
‘I am against material incentives because I regard them as incompatible with socialism . . .  What we want is to demystify money, not rehabilitate it. We even intend to abolish it completely’ (Nouvel Observateur, 17 September 1967).
Quite apart from considerations of how voluntary for some workers’ ‘voluntary work’ really was, this was never going to succeed because people in Cuba were not living in socialist conditions. Socialism presupposes that plenty for all is being produced. People can’t be expected to behave in a socialist way in conditions of continuing scarcity, such as existed in Cuba. Marx and Engels pointed this out in a passage in The German Ideology which is the perfect answer to Lenin’s question (though Lenin was not aware of it since this work wasn’t published until 1932). Discussing ‘the alien relation between men and what they themselves produce’ when there is private property, they wrote:
'This “alienation” (to use a term which will be comprehensible to the philosophers) can, of course, only be abolished given two practical premises. For it to become an “intolerable” power, ie. a power against which men make a revolution, it must necessarily have rendered the great mass of humanity “propertyless,” and produced, at the same time, the contradiction of an existing world of wealth and culture, both of which conditions presuppose a great increase in productive power, a high degree of its development. And, on the other hand, this development of productive forces (which itself implies the actual empirical existence of men in their world-historical, instead of local, being) is an absolutely necessary practical premise because without it want is merely made general, and with destitution the struggle for necessities and all the old filthy business would necessarily be reproduced .'
Moral exhortations cannot overcome the economic reality of material scarcity. Scarcity means that people are obliged to try to get as much money as they can, not for its own sake but to get access to what they need to live. In other words, ‘material incentives’ will prevail.
There was a rather less appealing side to the attempt to create ‘the new man’ as it also involved the 'revolutionary vanguard' stopping people hearing further the capitalist-individualist ideas that had been inculcated in them before the revolution. In practice this meant suppressing these ideas and the parties and individuals (imprisoning some) deemed to be advocating them, including some of the original Cuban revolutionaries who thought that the revolution’s aim was political democracy rather than socialism (actually, this had been Castro’s view at the time too).
Castro and Guevara were of course well aware that socialism (or communism as they called it) was not possible in isolation on the island of Cuba, but they did believe that progress towards it could be made. Fifty years later, however, there is still production for sale, money still exists, and ‘material incentives’ prevail.
The fact is that Lenin could not have been more wrong in imagining that progress towards socialism could be made where its essential prerequisites did not exist, neither objective (a sufficient development of productive capacity) nor subjective (a working class with a sufficient degree of culture wanting and understanding socialism). All a socialist minority that seized power in the absence of these conditions could do would be to preside over the further development of capitalism in one form or another; which, granting that Castro and Guevara did want socialism, was what happened in Cuba. State capitalism was supposed to be a step on the way to socialism but that's where it stopped.
Adam Buick

Editorial: The Devaluation of the Labour Party (1949)

Editorial from the November 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

The devaluation of the pound after repeated denials by Cripps that it would be devalued, is a symptom of the mental bankruptcy of the Labour Party. Gone is the easy optimism of 1945, when they were confident they could control and plan the capitalist system.

Now all can see that capitalist forces are in control, driving them from one panicky expedient to another, all of the methods resorted to by Liberal and Tory Governments in past crises.

Raising or lowering currencies in terms of gold has fairly often been the method used in the history of Capitalism for adjusting some of the financial and trading difficulties the system produces. Gold is still the standard to which the currencies used in world trade are related, even if, as in Britain at present, the relationship is indirect. The pound is fixed in relationship to the dollar—now 2.8 dollars to the pound—but the dollar is by American law fixed at a certain weight of gold, one ounce of fine gold making 35 dollars. The dollar too was devalued in the early nineteen thirties and fixed in 1934 at about three-fifths (59%) of the weight of gold it had formerly represented. The reduction of the pound from 4 dollars to 2.8 dollars, taken in conjunction with the earlier devaluation of the dollar, means in effect that the pound now represents about one-third (34%) of the gold it used to represent before the first world war.

Sometimes the change is upwards. This happened in 1925 when the pound, after being allowed to fluctuate for several years, was raised again to its 1914 gold level; only to be cut loose once more in 1931.

The purpose of devaluing the pound in September, 1949, was to try to give a temporary fillip to the export of British goods, while holding down wages in face of a rising cost of living; thus enabling exporters to sell at lower prices at the expense of the working class. Russia at the end of 1947, faced with a problem of high prices, an extensive black market and currency speculation handled the situation differently. They cut purchasing power by issuing new notes in place of the old ones, at the rate of only one new note in exchange for ten of the old, and by cancelling varying proportions of savings-bank deposits and investments in State loans—bondholdings were cut to one-third of their face value. At the same time this levy on savings was offset by a reduction of the prices of various essentials and by the abolition of rationing. The present devaluation by the Labour Government will not be the last; if and when the expected increased flow of British and European goods into America and American markets takes effect the demand may arise in those American industries adversely affected for another devaluation of the dollar in order to meet competition.

Although the Labour Ministers in devaluing and curtailing Government expenditure as a means of meeting Capitalism's crisis are behaving much like Ramsay MacDonald’s Government in 1931, they make the claim that they have one outstanding merit that distinguishes them from their predecessors, the merit of providing “full employment" The Daily Herald put this issue in a nutshell. The “dearer loaf," it said, quoting Cripps, will be “a vital contribution to the success of the national effort to balance our dollar trade"; and added, in its own words, “a vital contribution to maintaining full employment" (Daily Herald, 19/9/49). In effect the Labour Government, which insults the workers’ intelligence by describing itself as “Socialist," offers us the grim choice of evils, either to accept some lowering of the standard of living for all workers through rising prices, or to accept a drastic lowering of the standard of living through a big increase of unemployment. Either passively accept an all round worsening of conditions or be forced to accept it by the threat of unemployment and semi-starvation for large numbers.

The Labour Party spokesmen have betrayed their own lack of grasp of the realities of Capitalism by the way they have had to eat their own words. Cripps has, it is true, his defenders even outside his own ranks. The Manchester Guardian defended his repeated denials of the intention to devalue as a “necessary untruth," comparable with the patriotic lies of war-time; and in this was backed up by a Church dignitary, Canon Peter Green. But other Labour Party pronouncements proving that devaluation would be useless or harmful were on record and those who made them now have to be busy proving the opposite. On 19th May, 1948, the City Editor of the Herald, under the heading “Drop £ devaluation nonsense,” opposed devaluation on the ground that the assumed advantage of selling more goods to America (he took as his example bicycles) could only happen in a situation in which “we had spare labour (unemployment) and a glut of steel and rubber" to produce the additional bicycles, and that as these conditions did not exist, “all the theoretical benefits" of devaluation were non-existent too. (He overlooked the possibility that his Government might create the surplus for export by cutting the standard of living of the workers.)

“Fact,” the Labour Party Bulletin, for August, 1949, was even more unlucky. It came out against devaluation only a few weeks before Cripps introduced it. This is what it said: —
   “Thus, if devaluation succeeded in closing the gap (which is doubtful) it would do so by lowering our standard of living. The pound would buy less in Tooting and Bradford, as well as in New York and Winnipeg. Devaluation is therefore an alternative to wage-slashing as a device for cutting our prices at the expense of the mass of the people.”
This was a boomerang indeed. Capitalism offers to those who administer it just such choices of evils as the one mentioned. Having to choose between devaluation (with higher prices and frozen wages) and wage-slashing, the Labour Government chose devaluation in order to avoid a headlong clash with the workers. The clash is not avoided, only deferred.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Purpose of Devaluation (1949)

From the December 1949 issue of the Socialist Standard

The alleged purpose of devaluing the £ was to enable British exporters to sell goods in America and elsewhere which they otherwise could not sell, the idea being that an article formerly priced at 4,000 dollars (or £1,000) would be much more attractive to an American buyer if he could buy pounds at a cheaper rate. To take the extreme case of the price remaining at £1,000 the American buyer can now get it for 2,800 dollars instead of having to pay 4,000 dollars. Actually some British exports much in demand have remained at their old dollar price which means that they sell for a higher price in pounds. Thus if the export continued to sell at 4,000 dollars its price in pounds. will have been raised from £1,000 to about £1,430 (at 2.8 dollars to the £).

Most articles will in practice be sold somewhere in between the two extremes, that is to say, sold at a smaller number of dollars (i.e. something less than 4,000 dollars) but at a larger number of pounds (i.e. something above £1,000).

Exporters who can sell at the old dollar rate and get a larger number of pounds will of course make much larger profits unless their costs of production rise equally through having to buy raw materials in America.

Those advocates of devaluation who think that it is a wonderful cure-all are living in a fool’s paradise. Obviously if it were so simple all countries would have done it long ago.

Devaluation is only a method of achieving a result that could be achieved in another way; and what we have to seek is the reason why Governments, including the Labour Government, sometimes prefer to resort to devaluation.

Since the purpose of devaluation is to enable British exporters to sell the goods that they could not sell before, it will at once be seen that this could have been achieved by the simple method of reducing the price of the articles. But what would have happened if the Government had ordered exporters to cut their prices? In the first place it would have reduced their profits, and if the reduction had been big enough it would have put the companies out of business—they would have gone bankrupt.

So if the Government had enforced a reduction of prices instead of devaluing the £, it could not have stopped there; it would have had to take the next step of saving the exporters from bankruptcy either by reducing wages or by getting cheaper production by trying to force the workers to work harder for the same wages.

This is the key to the situation. Rather than try to reduce the capitalists' costs of production by lower wages or harder work, the Government looked for a way out which works differently though designed to achieve the same result. It achieves the same result because devaluation raises prices at home through importers now having to pay a larger number of pounds to buy the same amount of goods as before in dollar markets.

The broad alternatives before the Government were (a) no devaluation but lowered wages or harder work, or (b) devaluation with a higher cost of living and wage freezing.

In practice the Government, knowing that it could not succeed, except by bitter struggle, in preventing any rise of wages at all, aims to hold wages back as far as it can while at the same time trying to get greater production as well (in some cases by longer hours).

One other thing devaluation was expected to achieve, that was to enable exporters to make a quick sale of otherwise unsaleable goods in order to get dollars needed for imports and thus buy a short breathing space for the rest of the Government's increased production campaign to bear fruit

The whole business of devaluation may be illustrated by taking the example of a concern which urgently needs cash to pay overdue bills, and which has stock on hand which is selling too slowly to enable the firm to find the cash through ordinary channels. In such a situation the firm may decide to have a sale to turn the stock into money. To do this it may have to sell the stock at less than it cost to produce but will think it worth while because it "buys time” and avoids bankruptcy.

Naturally they can’t go on selling their goods at less than cost of production, but they may hope to solve the problem by reducing wages or by inducing their workers to produce more at the same wages and by one or other method to be able to reduce their cost of production and gain a wider market for their goods.

The sale (like devaluation) solves no problem except to gain time. The solution to the problem for the firm as for the Labour Government is to gain markets at the expense of the working class, the workers having to accept a lower standard of living or to accept increased intensity of work.

And the “solution” itself is no solution in the long run because every capitalist country is striving to sell its goods competitively in the same world markets. It is just a phase in the never-ending treadmill of capitalism.
Edgar Hardcastle

Tom Mann Retracts! (1924)

From the January 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

For years Tom Mann has been held up to public admiration as the sturdy champion of the General Strike as the only means by which the workers can achieve their emancipation. He has written much rubbish on the subject, and he has poured much scorn upon those who pointed out that the working class must either capture the political machinery or give up all hope of getting out of wage slavery. But history will have its little joke! Tom Mann has thrown up the sponge—the, pillar of fire was after all only a pillar of smoke.

Enshrined in the columns of "The Communist" Sydney (17/11/1922), the official organ of the Communist Party of Australia, is the renunciation. Here is what he wrote:
  “Now, however, the experience of the war and after the war has shewn conclusively that we can no longer think simply of an industrial struggle, and industrial organisation is not enough. Whatever is done by industrial organisation, the organised State machine will continue to function, and will beyond question be used by the plutocracy in any and every available form against the workers. The dominant ruling capitalist class, the plutocracy, have complete control of that highly efficient machine for class purposes; the interests of the community are ever secondary to the maintenance of power by the master class, and that machine will continue to be theirs until it is wrested from them by the workers.  .   . .
   “The most sanguine amongst us, as believers in the power of industrial organisation, are compelled by facts and experience to realise that the State institution in the hands of the master is not merely a danger to our success, but makes our success impossible no matter how perfectly we organise in our respective industries."
The article from which the above is taken is entitled “Syndicalism, Communism, and Revolution : An Answer to the Reformists of Australia and elsewhere.”

Another fallen idol! Working men, here is one of your trusted leaders—one who has incited you to the shambles many a time. But what is this?
   "In a rousing speech, Mr. Mann advocated the policy of the general strike as the 'only means of bringing the boss class to its knees.'
    “ ‘Do I advocate,' he asked, 'the killing of anyone? Nay, all you need do is to fold your arms, go to bed if you like, and three days would be sufficient. No strike pay would be required.' " (Daily Herald, 11/4/1923).
Notice that he advocates the “General Strike” as the “only means.” Perhaps, you think, Tom Mann is merely a shameless turncoat. He is not, he is an opportunist— searching for opportunities to the advantage of one Thomas Mann. For example, in spite of the above, he went to Scotland to assist Walton Newbold’s candidature for Parliament. Perhaps that partly accounts for Newbold’s failure to "get in” !
   One of the most enthusiastic election meetings over held in Motherwell was that addressed by Walton Newbold and Tom Mann, in the Pavilion Picture House, on Tuesday evening.  . .
Newbold and Mann were in splendid form, especially Mann, who gripped the big audience right away, and the cheering at the conclusion of his rousing speech could be heard all over the district. (The Workers' Weekly, 7th December, 1923.)
What do you think of him? The chameleon is constant compared with him!

They are all the same, these precious leaders. They change their tune with the change in their interests. Their object is to obtain pelf and place.

Have done with leaders. Direct your own movements, and let leaders go beg for their bread.
Gilmac.

Freedom! (1924)

From the February 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard
  “But the man who is always hovering on the verge of want is in a state not far removed from that of slavery. He is in no sense his own master, but is in constant peril of falling under the bondage of others, and accepting the terms which they dictate to him. He cannot help being, in a measure, servile, for he dares not look the world boldly in the face; and in adverse times he must look either to alms or the poor rates. If work fails him altogether, he has not the means of moving to another field of employment; he is fixed to his parish like a limpet to its rock, and can neither migrate nor emigrate.”

Editorial: Peace At Any Price! (1924)

Editorial from the March 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

On February 12th Mr. Ramsay MacDonald made his first speech in Parliament as Prime Minister. The Daily News, commenting on the policy outlined in this speech, made reassuring remarks directed to those who feared revolutionary action might be taken by the "Labour” Government.
   “The proposals put forward in general terms by the Prime Minister are such as any liberal-minded man should welcome sympathetically and without, misgiving. . . . The vast problem of unemployment is not to be approached by dangerous short cuts, necessitating 'the diminution of industrial capital,’ but through a policy aiming first and foremost at the restoration of trade.” (Daily News, 13.2.24.)
The view of this Capitalist paper is quite sound; the Capitalists have no need to fear any radical change in their profit-making system whilst the Labour Party occupy the seat of power. In fact, the former can congratulate themselves at being relieved of some awkward jobs. The strike on the railways threatened to interfere seriously with business, so the Labour Government stepped in and was instrumental in settling the strike. At the moment of writing a dock strike has been declared and the Labour Government are again moving in the matter. The aim of the Government is to “settle” strikes as they are so "inconvenient" to a newly elected "Labour" Government. The outlook of the Government in such questions is suggested by the following quotation :
  “The Minister of Labour (Mr. Tom Shaw)' says: ‘The proposals of the Government to overtake shortage of some types of building trade labour are not in any sense intended as an attack upon either the trade unions or the employers. The object of the Government is to secure goodwill and co-operation.' ” (Daily News, 4.2.24.)
This benevolent neutrality; this desire for "heavenly harmony” between the robbers and the robbed can hardly be supported as a sound outlook, on the part of the self-styled representatives of the working class, by the staunchest supporter of the Labour Party, unless such a supporter is outside the ranks of the workers.

The Editor of the New Leader laments the occurrence of the strikes and hopes for speedy settlement of the dock dispute. His comments are so instructive as an instance of the Labour Government’s outlook that they are worth quoting :—
  “It is well that the railway strike is over, but our congratulations on this event go primarily to the mediators of the General Council who worked so patiently for peace. Whether the men have gained anything which they might not have won without a strike seems doubtful. Their gain in any event is a small thing to set off against the moral and material damage of this conflict.”
After referring to the dissensions of the Railway Unions the editor goes on :—
  “Another of them underlies the threatened dock strike. Again, the competition of two Unions and two sets of leaders have brought upon us the tactics of emulation, and here also they may involve a stoppage of national trade which would thwart the efforts of the Labour Government to deal with unemployment.
  "In this case, however, we are confronting one of the tragedies of industrial life, and the whole movement, political and industrial, will back the demand for a prompt solution. The more hopeful way is, however, as George Lansbury argued last week, to tackle the problem of casual labour at the Docks and to aim at the guaranteed week.
  “Mr. Bevin has allowed a little more time than Mr. Bromley did for mediation, and the openings for diplomacy are in this case wider. A way out must be found. Nothing would end the experiment of a Labour administration so surely as an epidemic of hasty strikes.” (New Leader, 1.2.24.)
Could Lloyd-George speak fairer—on behalf of the masters? The writer of the above can well afford to talk calmly of "mediation” and hasty strikes; he gets £1,000 a year for h& editorship. If the railway man and the docker were in a similar position perhaps they also would not desire to "thwart the efforts of the Labour Government.” Note the refrain that is becoming the common inducement to "let things remain as they are"; sit tight and in semi-starvation until the Labour Government have had a chance! Don't embarrass them by action to increase wages or for better conditions!


Socialist Tactics. (1924)

From the April 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

People are frequently met with who assure us that though they agree with our principles they regard our tactics as "too theoretical” ! Apparently, in their minds, tactics are something to be guided or determined, not by the theories or principles, but exclusively by outside "conditions,” though our opponents are seldom clear as to what they mean by "conditions.”

They will admit that present-day society involves the enslavement of the working-class and, consequently, a struggle between that class and its masters; they will accept the statement that the workers must free themselves by converting the means of life into common property and that they must seize political power for that purpose; yet, they will boggle at the last jump and decline to admit that we are right in opposing all other political parties.

The particular brand of opponent to whom I refer usually calls himself a "Communist” nowadays. Not many years ago the term "British Socialist” or "Socialist Labour” man was good enough for him and previous to that "Social Democrat” was fashionable.

The so-called Revolution in Russia, however, induced him to change his name again without altering to any appreciable extent his mental outlook. He still continued to attach more importance to names than to things, and was more concerned with advocating Soviets than Socialism. Indeed, he habitually expresses profound scepticism regarding the possibility of interesting the workers in the latter proposition. He does not consider them capable of rising to his own lofty intellectual level; nor does, he hesitate to deride those of us who have greater trust in our class.

The alleged "Communist” believes in his ability to capture the Labour Party and "lead” it. So he alternately condemns that Party’s present “leaders” and supports them at election times.

He endeavours to justify this attitude by referring to a phrase in the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, to. wit:— "The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class parties.” In this he shows his lack of logic and historical knowledge.

In the first place the present-day "Communists” do form a separate party and the alleged "Labour” Party has opposed their admission into its ranks. Secondly, the phrase quoted above is, in its practical application, "antiquated, because,” in Engels’ own words, "the political situation has been entirely changed and the progress of history has swept from off the earth” the working-class parties referred to. (See Engels’ preface, "Communist Manifesto,” Reeves Edition, 1888.)

What was the political situation at the time Marx and Engels penned their historical document? Briefly, the open political. arena was confined to the representatives of. the various sections of the master-class. The workers were not enfranchised and were reduced to a fight for political elbow room. Under such conditions it was practically impossible for the Communists to form an independent political party.

They stood for the conquest of political power by the workers as the means of achieving the social revolution, but the technical means of this conquest, i.e., the franchise, had yet to be acquired, Hence the Communists supported, in England, the Chartists and similar bodies on the Continent. This in itself is a significant fact which the workers would do well to bear in mind when latter-day “Communists” pretend to ridicule the franchise as a political weapon, what time they are not urging the workers to use it to put in office the traitors of the Labour Party.

Conditions broke up the Chartist Movement, but the ruling class could not stop the advance of industry and the increase of the working-class. Neither could they dispense with the assistance of their slaves in the political field. Hence in the long run they were compelled to furnish the workers with the very political weapon which will serve as the instrument of emancipation. The masters enfranchised their slaves not because they loved them but because they could no longer hold back the wheel of development.

Since that day the modern Socialist tactics have been both a possibility and a necessity. Nothing now prevents a revolutionary party openly proclaiming its objective and calling upon the workers to organise for its establishment. While, on the other hand, every political party seeks the support of the workers only one party can represent their interests. That party is the Socialist Party. No other party can use the political machinery except as an instrument of oppression. Parties which stand for Capitalism in any shape or form, no matter what superficial changes they propose, can only maintain the system by force against the workers.

The Socialist Party, standing as it does for a social revolution, can only achieve its object by means of a political revolution.

The legislative, and administrative powers must be torn from the hands of the agents of the master-class by the working-class consciously organised in a political party for the purpose. Only then can the means of life become the property of all.

If the foregoing outline is correct (and we challenge our opponents to point out an error) the Socialist Party has no alternative but to oppose all other parties. There can be no compromise between the robbers and the robbed, the rulers and the oppressed.

Hence we carry on our work of Socialist propaganda, confident that with further economic development our task will become easier, that the workers will see the lights and organise for Socialism.
Eric Boden

The Quick Change Artist. (1924)

From the May 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

At the moment Winston Churchill is very much in the public eye on account of his latest change of front. He was once a Conservative, then he became a Liberal, and lately he appears to have returned to the Conservative ranks again. But in one thing he is at least consistent, he has always supported Capitalism and has not pretended to do anything else.

There is another man, once very much in the public eye, but now a setting star. This other man is Tom Mann. He has also changed his front many times, but he also has at least been consistent in one thing— consistent in advancing the personal interests of one Tom Mann.

For years Tom Mann waved the big stick of Industrial unionism and cut capers on platforms whilst pouring scorn upon Political Action as a weapon in the working class struggle for emancipation. We have, on previous occasion, given examples of the way in which this platform pantaloon at one time backs industrial action and at another political action. A recent illustration of his change of front moves us to extract one or two more examples from his record.

The Labour Leader of June 20th, 1918, issued an appeal inviting workers to join the I.L.P. The following extract is from this appeal:—
  We must not go back to pre-war conditions— else why all the sacrifice of the. war? We must have a fuller life—which is only possible on Socialist lines advocated by the I.L.P. This Party, of which we, the undersigned are members, is growing rapidly, is a fine propagandist body, and will assist to co-ordinate the industrial and political efforts of the Unions. We must not forget all we owe to the I.L.P. in the past.
Amongst the names of those who signed the above appeal (wherein it is stated that the “undersigned are members” of the I.L.P.) appears that of Tom Mann, the industrial unionist!

Later on Tom Mann signed the Trade Union Leaders’ 'Manifesto supporting the League of Nations. Item 4 of this Manifesto runs as follows :—
 4. The prospect of another and still greater war is one we must either prepare for by vaster armaments than ever, or prevent. The first alternative is unthinkable. There remains only prevention. Prevention is possible by the League of Nations to enforce the peace. There isno other way.—The Times, 7.11.19.
Is this Tom Mann the Industrialist or Tom Mann the I.L.P.’er who signs the Manifesto? If the “League of Nations” is the only way to prevent war, then where does Socialism come in? A very little examination of the “ League of Nations” should convince those who will look at it from the working-class standpoint that it cannot prevent wars in a Capitalist world because it leaves the cause of wars untouched. It has a two-fold object. It is a method by which a section of the Capitalist Class hope to cut down the enormous sums they have to throw away on large armaments, and it is also a convenient method of throwing dust in the eyes of the workers and keeping them from finding the real cause of wars—the profit-making nature of the Capitalist system. The Capitalist hoodwinking scheme then has the support of Tom Mann.

In 1920 a pamphlet was issued by “The Labour Abstentionist Party” (a party that was still-born). This party advocated
  (a) Securing the election of Parliamentary Candidates pledged to abstain from taking their seats; (b) Propagation of the futility of Parliamentary action.
The “Foreword” to the pamphlet was written by Tom Mann and the following extracts are taken from it:—
  The workers are travelling rapidly in the direction of obtaining control of industry. They will travel with accelerating speed as they learn the unwisdom of relying upon Parliament. .   .   .
 The glamour of Parliament naturally has attractions which many good men are reluctant to forego; as these comrades grow in strength and clearness of view they will discard the plutocratic institution and learn the wisdom of Direct Action, and complete. control of industrial affairs in the communal interest.  .    .    .
  I therefore heartily commend this pamphlet as being in my judgment calculated to be really educative in enabling readers to estimate Parliamentary action correctly, and to see the necessity for Industrial Solidarity.
Here we have a change back again to Direct Action—he has apparently grown (backwards!) in strength and clearness and discarded the “ plutocratic institution ”

But now we come to the cream of the business—the “real currant bun.” The monthly journal of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, number forty-four, March, 1924, has been brought to our notice, and was the immediate inspiration of this article. On turning to page 6 we find the following:—
ELECTION OF THREE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATES, 1924.
The following have accepted nomination for the above positions. All pay the Political Levy and accept the objects, policy, and programme of the Labour Party, and are prepared to accept a constituency in the event of being selected. (Italics ours.)
On looking down the list of those who "have accepted nomination," etc., we find among them
Mann, T., Woolwich, 6th.
So the Labour abstentionist has grown further in “strength and clearness” and is back in the Parliamentary fold trying to get a seat in the "plutocratic institution” ! He accepts "the objects, policy, and programme” of the party which assisted in sending thousands of working men to the battlefield and whose present programme includes the settling of strikes, the increase of armaments, and the attendance at glorious feeds provided by their wealthy patrons—the Capitalists.

We have given the above particulars not because any great importance attaches to Tom Mann (as a matter of fact among “labour leaders” he is practically a back number at the moment), but because his record offers a convenient illustration of the futility and foolishness of trusting in "leaders.”

The antidote to the blind following of blind or tricky leaders is to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge that will acquaint you with the road you must travel to achieve your freedom from wage slavery. Once you have grasped the fundamentals of your position in society you will lay down the policy to be carried out and you will not require ‘‘leaders.”

Popular idols are the abomination of working-class movements. Away with them !
Gilmac.

The Fraud of Reform (1924)

From the June 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

In spite of the manifest failure of the "Labour” Government to solve the problems facing the working class the majority of its supporters still seem to cling to the idea that such a government contains their only hope. The failure is excused on the ground that the Labour Party are in office but not in power, and it does not appear to strike those who echo this excuse that it is in itself an admission that the Labour Party is prepared to depend upon the support of sections of the master class in turn and to give the necessary services to that class in return. The execution by the “Labour” Government of various items of policy inherited from.their Tory predecessors is overlooked and we are asked to be grateful for the abolition of the gap, promises of increased pensions and the reduction of indirect taxation.

The Labour Party’s supporters appear to consider these acts as real measures of improvement of working class conditions, and that with a “Labour” majority in the House of Commons more blessings will descend on their patient heads. Let us examine the grounds for such assumption.

Take the abolition of the gap. The present writer recently heard one unemployed leader declare that even if the Government had done nothing else, this act alone entitled them to working class support. Yet, why was the unemployment insurance established in the first place? Was it to make existence easier for the unemployed? If so, then Lloyd George is entitled to support rather than the Labour Party, who have merely modified one of his measures; but the object of National Insurance in all its forms for that matter was no piece of Capitalist philanthropy. The master class have not yet commenced to give us something for nothing.

Shortly before the abolition of the gap, the chairman of the Glasgow Parish Council gave away the key of the situation. In an interview with the Minister of Health, reported in the Daily Herald, he stated that the gap cost his Council £200,000 in outdoor relief. The Minister in the House of Commons announced that the abolition of the gap would cost the Stale an additional £500,000

Thus, it is easy to see that two-fifths of the amount laid out by the State will be saved by the Glasgow property owners alone. Two other cities, saving similar amounts would wipe out the outlay and show a profit for the ‘‘nation” of £100,000. The unemployed are merely transferred for the purpose of relief from the local to the national authorities because such centralisation is cheaper.

The same remarks apply to pensions. When Lloyd George introduced old age pensions, he pointed out that it cost more to maintain old slaves in workhouses than to give them a State pension. The State simply relieved the local authorities of part of the increasing financial burden caused by the increase of poverty among the workers. The Labour Party propose to carry the process a step further. They propose that a still greater share of the burden shall fall on the National Exchequer knowing full well that this will result in a reduction of the amount paid out by the master class as a whole in proportion to the number of slaves pensioned.

What working man can seriously consider that the miserable pittances suggested really relieve poverty. If the intention is to make the pensioned ones comfortable and free from care, how are we to explain the scantiness of the means? Remember, fellow slaves, the millions squandered to make your masters’ property safe by means of four years of carnage before you repeat the silly lie that there is not enough wealth to do it.

What applies to old age pensions, of course applies equally to mothers’ pensions and so on. Mr.. Arthur Henderson, during the Burnley bye-election, stated that the Government’s object was to prevent needy mothers applying to the Poor Law authorities.

Generally we find the same dodge on the part of our masters. They pretend to give with one hand something but it is less than they take away with the other.

The anxiety of the Labour Government and its supporters to justify their existence in the eyes of the property owners was well exemplified in the debate on the administration of the Poplar area. The Minister of Health showed that the inability of his predecessors to enforce the Mond order proved that the Poplar Guardians had (in spite of accusations to the contrary) kept relief down to the minimum possible in view of the extreme destitution in the area concerned. George Lansbury proudly claimed that they had kept the peace in the East End for years. Who for? There is only one answer. The masters see in the rising tide of destitution a standing menace to the security of their property. The more starving men and women there are, the more danger there is of theft and other such crimes being committed. The choice is between increased protection in the shape of an additional police force and so-called "relief.” It is cheaper to dole out a few "bob” per head to the hungry than to feed, clothe, house and equip a large staff of extra police, and so we find that as the years go on and the army of the unemployed mounts from hundreds of thousands to millions and the general scope of destitution grows larger, the dole has to be enlarged and the need for economy in its administration becomes more keenly felt by the masters, from whose coffers it must come.

Hence we find centralisation schemes being adopted, extended and revised as experience and growing pressure dictates to our rulers. There is no "new spirit” embodied in the Labour Party’s policy in this matter. All the pious bosh of Ramsay Macdonald and his gang merely accentuates their disgusting meanness and contempt for the interests of the class in whose name they profess to act. Their "Socialism” is merely the bourgeois variety mentioned by Marx and Engels in the "Communist Manifesto” which professes with its lips to serve the workers but in its actual practice simplifies and economises Capitalist government.

The reduction of taxation in any shape or form cannot benefit the workers as a class for the simple reason that their energy is a commodity, the price of which is based on the cost of living. Even if we grant for sake of argument that taxes affect prices in the long run, the reduction in the cost of living involves no improvement in the general condition of the workers. It only provides the masters with an opportunity and excuse for reducing wages. In fact, the greater part of the existence of the workers on the economic field may be summed up thus :—Fighting for a rise when prices go up and fighting against a reduction when prices fall.

Yet, in spite of these perfectly obvious facts, we have sentimental humbugs proclaiming themselves the workers’ saviours because they have taken fourpence off tea. We are not impressed. They are merely imitators. Their Liberal precursors have given us our stomach-full long enough ago.

Fellow workers, so long as a small class possess the means of life, you will toil in poverty for them; and reforms will do nothing to lift the burden. Socialism alone will do that. Organise for the common ownership of the earth and all that the workers’ hands have wrought.
Eric Boden

The Labour Party Votes for Strike-Smashing Bill. (1924)

From the July 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard
We are threatened with strikes and lock-outs, and disputes and disturbances. How childish it all is! How foolish it all is! What has happened? Why is there now no mutual confidence? Surely these things can be arbitrated.—Mr. Ramsay Macdonald’s speech to Free Churches at Brighton, March 6th, 1924.
“The Right to Strike" is supposed to be the charter of Trade Unionism. Ever since unions were formed the masters have used every device to smash strikes. Now comes the Labour Party, when in office, supporting a Bill to make strikes illegal.

The Industrial Councils Bill provides for the setting up of joint industrial councils whose decisions will become law. Every individual who refuses to abide by them will be fined £50.

At the Trade Union Congress in 1922 the present War Secretary said that “if this Bill were passed it would mean compulsory arbitration." The Congress voted against it. Mr. Naylor, of the Compositors, spoke against it there. The Delegate of the Distributive Works pointed out that his experience of the Trade Boards Act showed that in many cases nothing was done when employers infringed the Trade Boards Act. The Bill was also denounced at the Congress by Brownlie, of the Engineering Union.

When the voting on the second reading of the Bill took place in the House of Commons only 16 voted against it. The majority of the Labour members voted for this anti-strike measure, and the second reading was carried by 236 to 16.

In spite of the agreements continually ignored by employers, and the paralysing effect of Whitley Councils, the so-called spokesman of Labour joined with the capitalists in supporting the Bill. The fact that Conciliation Boards on the railways played havoc with the railwaymen, that trade unionists have continually been compelled to strike to get “awards" carried into effect; and that in Australia and elsewhere compulsory arbitration has been a strong weapon in the hands of the employers; despite these glaring facts, these alleged Labour men vote for even stronger powers to be given to the ruling class against the victims of the present system.

The quotation which heads this article explains the reason. The Labour Party tells the workers to have confidence in employers who live by the robbery of labour.

The reason capitalists supported the aims of this Councils Bill was stated by Dr. Macnamara, the capitalist politician during the debate. “Whitleyism is the reply to Socialism” was his defence of the Bill the Labour members supported.

The anti-Socialist actions of the so-called Labour Party were made plain by Dr. Macnamara's answer to David Kirkwood during the debate. This Liberal member quoted the report of the Sub-Committee on Reconstruction made to the Government in 1917. The report begins with this gem :—
  In the interests of the community it is vital that after the war the co-operation of all classes, established during the war, should continue, and more especially with regard to the relations between employers and employed.
The report was signed by Robert Smillie, Susan Lawrence, and J. R. Clynes!

If further proof were required of the anti-strike attitude of the Labour Party, it is supplied by the vote on Lansbury’s amendment to the Army Annual Bill. In 1923, when they were in opposition, 101 Labour members voted for this same amendment. The amendment states that when enlisting in the army the recruit shall have the option of refusing to take duty in aid of the civil power in connection with a trade dispute. When the same amendment was voted upon this year (April 2nd) under a Labour Government, out of nearly 200 Labour members only 67 voted in favour of this amendment. It was defeated by 236 to 67. The members of the Labour Government voted against it, and included amongst them were many of the so-called pacifists who voted for it in 1923.

Apart altogether from Lansbury’s consent (which is implied in the amendment) to the building up of an army at all, for capitalism, the fact that the Labour members continually supported it before they took office confirms our charge against them of unblushing hypocrisy and reaction.
A. C. A.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Editorial: Labour Rules The Empire With Bombs and Bullets. (1924)

Editorial from the August 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

The repeated use of bombs in Mespot by the Air Force since the Labour, Government came into office is another item in their black and brutal record.. It shows how willing they are to do the dirty work for the capitalists in maintaining their ownership and control. Under the Conservative Government bombs were frequently used to aid in compelling payment of taxes, but, of course, that was "the dirty method of the Capitalists.” How similar the rule of the Labour Party is was admitted by Mr. Leach, the Labour Minister, in the House of Commons in answer to a Tory question. He said :—
  We communicated with our military and air headquarters in Iraq in regard to the whole situation in bombing operations, and 1 cannot honestly say that we have made any change in the policy of the late Government.—(Parliamentary Debates, June 30, column 925.)
This "pacifist” minister defends bombing as a humane method and tells the Daily Herald (July 15) that it is "a great saving to the taxpayer,” as military forces cost more! In the language of an Empire Builder, he talks of the necessity to stop the tribesmen fighting, so that the land of oil annexed to "our Empire” shall be a sweet land of peace and profit. Therefore, the Labour Government is suppressing all attempts at rebellion by the kindly and Christian use of bombs.

This rule of force in the interests of Capital is shown also by the shooting down of Indians under this Labour Government.

In April the brutal exploitation in the cotton mills of Cawnpore drove the workers to strike and on the grounds of "law and order” the police were ordered to fire on the strikers. Three strikers were killed and 34 injured.

In .March the cotton slaves at Bombay were on strike and the firing on the strikers is thus described by the Daily Herald (April 7-24) :—
    It is stated in responsible Indian circles that the conduct of the strikers had been exemplary, that no magistrate was present, and no adequate warning given when the firing began and that the police did not as usual fire in the air first, but directly at the crowd, and that schoolboys taking no part whatever in the demonstration were killed.
Within the period of six weeks the third case of shooting took place at Jaito upon a crowd of Sikhs engaged in their religious ceremonies and since then no Nationalist or Indian journalist has been allowed to enter the locality, according to the Herald (April 7).

This brutal rule under a Labour Government takes place in a country where Ramsay MacDonald tells us (The Awakening of India) "only the faintest glimmer of trade unionism is streaking his (the Indian’s) horizon with light.” On the Prime Minister’s own showing, therefore, the working class are very weak in union organisation in India and the bloody efforts to kill it altogether under "Labour” Rule is clear evidence of the Labour Pity’s work for Capitalism.

The shooting and bombing of "natives of the Empire" is strictly in accord with the policy of Imperialism. The Labour Party’s work to maintain Capitalist rule is on a level with the Liberal and Conservative policy of the past. Every worker, therefore, can take note of the Capitalist nature of the so-called Labour Government, as clearly shown by their deeds.

If Mespot and India are not enough evidence of Empire under "Labour,” the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Thomas, supplies a further example. When the "hero” responsible for the massacre of strikers on the Rand, Mr. Smuts, was defeated, Thomas eulogised him to the skies. Said our Labour Colonial Secretary: "There is no man more entitled to our gratitude and appreciation than General Smuts” (Daily Herald, June 20). The day previous the Herald had to confess that Smuts was responsible for the slaughter of 300 natives by machine gun fire in 1921, the bloody suppression of the Rand Strike in 1922 and the Bondelswarts massacre in 1923.

Such is the hero worshipped by Labour’s choice! The Labour Party, pacifist and militarist, Fabian and I.L.P. combined, are once again shown to be the enemies of the working class. And “Communist” place seekers and vote catchers are supporting the Labour Party! Even after the slaughter referred to above has been made public we find Walton Newbold, of the Communist Party, declaring, “The more I have seen of the Labour Party, the more I have liked it.” (Forward, June 14, 1924).

The Socialist Party is not like the Communists "out to steal the Leadership of the Labour Party.” We are out for Socialism, and therefore stand for the capture of political power by a Socialist working class. Then, and only then, will the butchery by Capital and its Labour agents be impossible.

The Conflict between Anarchism and Socialism (1924)

From the September 1924 issue of the Socialist Standard

Idealism and Materialism.
The confusion in people’s minds about anarchism and Socialism continually calls for a discussion of the subject. Whilst to many capitalists they are identical, to others Anarchism is the noblest ideal ever inspiring the minds of men, and Socialism is considered as “the coming slavery.” Many so-called Socialists styling themselves “advanced,” say that Anarchism is the highest expression of Socialism. They say that we are on the same road. That is true. But we are travelling in opposite directions. The Socialist is going forward along the road on which the human race has evolved. The Anarchist goes backward to individualism and petty enterprise. Is that clear?

Socialism is not the result of schemes and dreams. It is but a convenient name for the stage in social evolution made possible and inevitable by the economic tendencies of our time. It is not built up out of vain yearnings and longings for liberty, equality and fraternity. It seeks to adapt the methods of owning and enjoying wealth to the co-operative system of production already reached by economic advance.

It is hard to define Anarchism. Each Anarchist claims to be a law unto himself. The essential feature, however, is the demand for absolute liberty: (See Kropotkin’s Conquest of Bread.) Anarchists claim that the State, Law and Authority were invented by the rich to rob the poor. They believe in free agreement by groups to live in their own way. They denounce majority rule, representation, voting, and many other methods which the human race evolved in their upward march and struggle for existence. Anarchists criticise the present system and also Socialism from the standpoint of a Utopian dreaming of a perfect society. In their wild tirades against Law and State they ignore the place these institutions have in social development.

The Lessons of Evolution.
Free agreement amongst a number, of people is useful, but absolute individual liberty is impossible. To reject the necessity for majority rule under all conditions is ridiculous.

Humanity has to live. The necessaries of life must be continuously produced or we starve. Anarchist ideas of waiting till men and women in local groups come to a complete agreement about production and distribution will cause, starvation and misery in the meantime.

The hopes of Anarchists, sincere and high though they may be, ignore the past results and present trend of economic life. Society advanced out of the primitive condition of savage man by combination; by association in their contest with nature and animal. From a tool-less animal man progressed step by step until the power to control natural forces gave him a larger, wider vision and impelled him to discover institutions to regulate and harmonise social life. The steady improvement in tools and association gave men the power to feed, clothe and house vast societies. Earlier, simpler, localised methods could not do this. Association in working the huge machinery and operating large factories, running railroads and sailing ships inevitably increased the wealth of the world. Modern machinery and centralised production is an advance. Let Anarchists deny it. Whilst this cooperatively worked industry is under individual and class ownership it breeds poverty among plenty. Socialists, therefore, seek to commonly own and democratically control that which the workers commonly produce. Is that plain?

The Great Divide.
Anarchists reject democratic control of the instruments of wealth. Some of them believe in individual ownership, others hold to common possession. They all demand, nevertheless, that the individual should control. How can die instruments of production commonly owned be individually controlled? Anarchists are silent on this point. Free agreement and absolute individual liberty cannot provide for the unceasing daily necessities of an international population, always growing.

Socialists study history and find that the material conditions, the forces used in social production, the natural and social surroundings of the population, form the foundation for the life of the people. Methods of ownership, exchange and distribution, depend upon the kind of material conditions existing. Ways of government, states of law, and all the political and civil regulations of humanity follow from the industrial habits and economic institutions of men. To denounce the State, the Law, and the social institutions because they do not fit in with some ideal principle is good—for the poet. But it does not help to change society.

The Socialist knows that many things called “bad,” and most institutions called “evil,” once served society as methods of advance. Anarchists from Stirner to Goldman indict the entire past of the human race as wrong, forgetful of the truth of evolution that what is “bad” and useless now was “good ” and useful at some previous time. The materialistic explanation of history involves the truth that a given system of production leads to a definite and corresponding method of distribution and ownership. Hence, the common ownership of the resources of life cannot be controlled by varying and conflicting individuals at their own sweet will, but must be democratically controlled by and in the interest of the whole working population. In social and therefore important matters the majority must decide if all do not agree.

The Philosophy of Destruction.
Such a Utopian ideal as Anarchism leads to peculiar results. If majority rule is wrong in principle, the overthrow of the few (the owners) by the majority (the workers) is also wrong. So we are condemned to wait till the whole society, parasites and producers alike, can reach a common mutual agreement. What an Anarchist farce! The sweet and beautiful expressions of freedom running through the pages of idealists sway the sentimental man and woman. Sentiment is a fine thing. But it is no substitute for knowledge. Sentiment by itself is a fine ally of our masters, for it does not need education and study. And it is used by the so-called patriots and clergy to chain us to the slavery of to-day.

“The State and Government must be immediately abolished,” Anarchists say. They accuse Socialists of believing in these institutions. Socialists are directly opposed to every agency of privilege and every office of domination. But unlike the Anarchists we realise that a central authority arose when the division of labour took place and it filled a useful function in the life of primitive but progressing society. The administration of affairs and the regulation of civil life was its chief function. Private property and class division gave rise to a State machine controlled by each ruling section in turn—chattel slave owner, patriarchal lord, feudal baron, or industrial capitalist. Knowing how these institutions have grown out of and adapted themselves to each period of society, we do not demand their instant abolition. They are part of the existing society and to remove them we must change the economic and social system as a whole. The uprising of Anarchists supported by Madame Breshkovsky, Peter Kropotkin, and others in Russia, demanded the abolition of government—at a time when centralised control and nationwide action could alone save the suffering workers from starvation and slaughter by the advancing bourgeoisie. Anarchists being Utopians and idealists believe they can cut off parts of this system as they think fit. They do not realise that the modern State, Law, Authority, Police and Punishment are but the results of class rule and are integral parts of a rotten system. Rotten because it is over-ripe economically.

Anarchism and Democracy.
Anarchists pour their bitter venom upon every form of representation, voting, delegation, etc. Blind to the fact (as Morgan shows of the Iroquois tribes) that it took ages for the human race to progress to these surer, safer, and advanced methods of conducting social life. They had a function and have one yet. Anarchists say an individual should be the master of his life and no one can represent him. This is nonsense. Only little, loose groups could live in this way, and even they would soon expediently forget their principles. A great population cannot carry on a society by the whole population meeting together to argue and discuss until everybody agrees. In the meantime men must live. Representation is therefore a good servant.

Democracy is not what Anarchists and capitalists imagine. It means more than holding up hands or saying “Aye!” To open all channels of knowledge and information, to give everyone leisure and a chance to understand and learn of the facts of life, to offer to all the advancement modern “democracy” keeps for a‘few— this is the social and political expression of democracy. When men vote and discuss and delegate their opinions under these conditions they will know what they are doing. And then, if all do not agree, social matters can be decided by majorities until the minority convinces the majority.

The Intellectuals.
Emma Goldman in her book on “Anarchism and Other Essays” says the majority is always wrong. The Anarchists, therefore, will either rule with a minority or be wrong if they become a majority. She further states the great mass of the people never were and never will be the ones to progress. Just the intellectual few. Such views mean that the great body of the people will depend upon the kindness and wisdom of the Anarchist intellectuals to guide and mother us. All Anarchists hold to that opinion. Socialists, however, understand that the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself. Unless we can convince and convert the majority of workers, Socialism is an idle dream. If you bring about a revolution with an ignorant, uninformed or hostile working class, defeat sooner or later faces you. Judge, too, the value of these self-styled intellectuals by their gymnastics on the war.

Kropotkin in Russia, Herve and Benj. R. Tucker in France, Clarence Darrow in America, Owen in England, are examples of the ease with which critics of the common herd join with it to become popular.

Anarchism Kills Organisation.
These reactionary ideas follow from their conception of the all-importance of individuals. They believe society is just a collection of individuals, not an organic whole as Socialists and all scientists understand. Many Anarchists reason from this that the removal of certain individuals will change conditions. Propaganda by deed follows from their false sociology. The absolute liberty of the individual and supremacy of the ego kills the spirit of organisation. The workers cannot be organised unless the give-and-take, policy of democracy is used. The individual will must express itself through the common will. Anarchists, therefore, have never attempted to organise the working-class. They shout general strike and insurrection without teaching the masses the economics and history of the system. The fallacy of the general strike rests upon the fact of the workers being propertyless and faced with starvation if they all leave work and the tools in the masters' hands. Their objection to political organisation is based upon the. supposed failure of political action in the past. But the toilers have never used the power of politics in their own interest The chief reason why men become Anarchists is the sickening fraud and failure of those compromising and reforming parties which pose as Socialist. The real science and policy of the teachings of Marx and Engels have never been answered by Anarchists. They waste their time fighting shadows and attacking effects, not causes. Anarchism appeals to sentiment and needs little thought or study to succumb to its plausible appeal.
Adolph Kohn